Doctoring Philosophy

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Let�s Interact

I was chatting the other day with my partner in Crime in many things academic and blogstatic is, who, for simplicity of notation, we will simply call PartnerInCrime. We got to talking about the fantastic pseudo-science (and ultimately where all your taxpayer money goes to die, via the NSF) that is Human Computer Interaction.

PartnerInCrime: Incidentally have you ever been to an HCI (Human Computer Interaction) )research talk before?
PhilosophyDoctor: you mean like a "Miracles in Flash Demo"? otherwise known as "we worship the FALSE Gods in Media Labs"?
PartnerInCrime: LOL was so mind numbingly SKETCHY and everyone was incredibly impressed. all the HCI people atleast
PhilosophyDoctor: Flash'll do that to you each time, and awesome ergonomic font
PartnerInCrime: and this man is going to win a best thesis award from Cashcow Moneybags U CS, its ridiculous
PhilosophyDoctor: goes to show what Cashcow Moneybags U CS stands for. And they make an ENTIRE school for it
PhilosophyDoctor: true.. like it is not good enough to simply let them be a department. They should make an entire school around HCI now.
PhilosophyDoctor: haha
PartnerInCrime: well they are also a dept...the CS dept within the CS school where do these people get off
PhilosophyDoctor: its so... Russian doll
[much mirth]
PhilosophyDoctor: apparently, whoever funds them goes "gee whiz...graaaphics"
PartnerInCrime: anyways the aforementioned person is touring the stud CS schools for fac. positions
PartnerInCrime: I believe he is also coming to StateSchool, so if you get the opportunity go sneer at his "work"
PhilosophyDoctor: lol...that would be awesome i could send representatives in my absence. So what IS his thesis?
PartnerInCrime: All he does is place sensors in a room and then uses Statistics to find out which correlate highly with how busy the occupants are
PhilosophyDoctor [Having read the abstracts of a couple of papers]: hahaha... he has something called a Wizard of Oz approach
PartnerInCrime: I know....its "Top down" instead of "bottom up"
PhilosophyDoctor: i guess the appropriate response to him at State U would be... Judy, you ain't in Kansas no more.
PartnerInCrime: LOL.... hahahahaha.... ROTFL

Monday, June 05, 2006

Ab Initio

Daniel Drezner warns grad students and tenure track faculty against getting blogs. Mostly because 'frankness' is often an undesirable quality when you are trying to sell the good stuff to a conference, a journal, a thesis committee or worse, the NIH/NSF/DARPA. I have been told it works that way for the National Endowment for the Arts too, but I am skeptical about it. Last I checked, they were all for the true expression of the soul.

The web has about 100 e6 a hundred million blogs written by grad students, quickly (and treacherously) leading the average college-educated person to the false conclusion that grad students are a lazy lot. Or that we decorate our blogs with pink pastels, all of which are rare occurences. Bitch Ph.D. might have written a cool grad student blog, but she's on the other side now. Those initials are hers already and no number of furry mouse pics will convince us otherwise. Ph.D.Comics are funny and wry and cute -- and the last is mainly what we have issue with. And by 'we', I mean 'I'. Hundreds of hours re-editing lazy 'explanations', 'sellutions' and 'motivations' will do that to you. The authorial 'we' is all right if you have MPD or part of you thinks you do. But feeding one mouth is hard enough, Multiple personalities cannot afford to survive on the grad budget.

So why the blog? Simple. For a career that beckons so many from the hallowed halls of learning across the world, very little is known about it untill you are actually in the thick of things. Even as you are grovelling to your professors for recommendations, double checking your semesterly finals for errors to ensure that A+ comes through, prepping for the GRE or writing long rapturous essays about how, even as a suckling babe, you knew that cognitive nanobiomoleculochemistry was your only calling, you have no real idea about what grad school demands of you. And how little most of the abovementioned will prepare you for it. Maybe this blog will get you the inside-groove on the PhD track. We'll talk about managing complex relationships on the fly, negotiating mammoth ivory-tower egos, tips on hanging out with the really smart AND cool profs (they are almost always positively correlated)  and more. Or perhaps, we will merely bitch endlessly. Either ways, we'll give you the laughs.

If you are already in school, this will probably tell you that life is as screwed up on your part of the world as it is on mine. Naturally, no names here. You can tell these stories elsewhere. But they'll have to start with "so this dude that I know who's in grad school got into the most godawful mess involving a silver cow-creamer, a broomstick and a croquet bat...." Capiche?